4 Ways to Tender Meat

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4 Ways to Tender Meat
4 Ways to Tender Meat

When cooked, steaks can be very tender or rock-hard. Tendering steaks causes the connective tissues to be damaged and broken, which makes the meat softer before cooking. With a meat hammer or an enzyme marinade, the steak can be cooked any way you like. If you prefer to skip preparation and go straight to cooking, sautéing is the best option.


Method 1 of 4: Choosing the Right Cut

Tenderize Steak Step 1

Step 1. Choose the cut according to the way of preparation

The barbecue and the pan require different cuts and techniques, for example. The time available to prepare the meat also influences the choice.

For example, for a quick meal, make a skirt steak in the pan instead of trying to make rib steak in the same amount of time

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Step 2. Know the difference between prime cuts and second-rate cuts

The tenderness of the meat is directly related to the amount of muscular exercise that a certain part of the ox undergoes during its life. A piece that has undergone little muscular effort, such as the back, tends to be softer, while the leg part, harder. The muscles in the region of the loin, rib and surroundings are the softest and, therefore, considered noble.

The prime cuts include filet mignon, duck, rump steak, skirt steak and rump

Tender Steak Step 3

Step 3. Understand that fat plays an important role in both the tenderness and flavor of meat

Meat cuts are judged on tenderness and the amount of fat present. The scale ranges from first cuts, which have a good amount of fat in animals under 42 weeks, selected cuts, selected cuts and second cuts.

  • The ideal fat is one that sits between the fibers of the meat, looking like cobwebs. The more white strands the meat has, the better the fat distribution.
  • Fat affects not only softness but also taste. The more fat between the fibers the steak has, the softer it will be. But people's tastes are different, and some find meats with a lot of fat in the fiber to taste too strong.

Method 2 of 4: Softening with the Hammer

Step 1. Place the steaks on a flat surface

They cannot be frozen, just in the fridge. When choosing a surface, remember that not all can be properly sanitized.

  • Many boards are not properly sanitized after contact with meat. If you don't give up natural fiber boards, such as bamboo, leave a board of another material separate to use on meats. Plastic or glass boards are completely clean after contact with meat.
  • Choose boards not only for material, but also for strength. When softening steaks with a hammer, you will exert yourself. A thin glass board is not the best option for softening steaks with a hammer.

Step 2. Place the steaks in a plastic bag or wrap them with plastic wrap

The plastic cover has two functions: to prevent cross-contamination and loss of juices. Covering the steak will minimize the contact between the meat juices and the cutting board.

When wrapping the meat in plastic wrap, remember that it will expand after being tenderized. Leave enough room for the steak to spread out during the process

Step 3. Beat the meat

Beat rhythmically, starting in the middle and working towards the edges. Instead of hitting too hard, hit them efficiently and firmly, pulling outward at the end. Using the hammer correctly keeps the steak meaty and beautiful, rather than looking thin and worn. Beat the entire steak, turn it over and repeat.

  • No meat hammer? No problem. Use an iron pot, a rolling pin or a bottle of wine.
  • Know which side of the hammer to use. The full side with sharp triangular spikes is the main one. When making holes in the meat, the fibers separate in the presence of heat, making it much softer. The flat side of the hammer serves to sharpen cuts, making cooking easier.
  • After being tenderized, the meat will appear fragile. Put some cover to hide it.

Method 3 of 4: Tendering with Enzymes

Tenderize Steak Step 7

Step 1. Choose the right marinade to soften

Not all marinades tenderize meat. Look for marinades that have acidic ingredients such as vinegar or fruit juice. Also consider your favorite spices and flavors. You can buy one ready-made or make it at home.

Pineapple juice contains bromelain. This substance is excellent for breaking the hardness of meat. Unfortunately, it loses its effect when heated, so if you're going to use it for softening, the juice needs to be fresh

Step 2. Mix the marinade

When making a marinade, the goal is to get a homogeneous mixture. If using ingredients like pineapple or kiwi for enzymes, use a food processor to keep the marinade even. If you need to cook the marinade, let it cool completely before using it on meat. This prevents some parts of the steak from cooking.

  • The marinade must involve all the meat when used.
  • Since marinades have acidic ingredients, avoid using metal bowls. Acid can react with metal, which gives the meat a strange taste.

Step 3. Maximize marinade rest time

Even though softer cuts of meat only need two hours of rest, harder cuts need several hours or even an overnight stay. The longer the meat is in the marinade, the softer it will be. As a general rule, fruit marinades are best for the short term and oil or vinegar based ones for overnight stays.

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Step 4. Always leave the steak on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator

Do not leave raw meat out of the fridge as this is dangerous to your health. By placing it on the bottom shelf, you prevent the marinade from splashing or contaminating other foods underneath.

Method 4 of 4: Braising to Soften

Step 1. Seal all sides of steak

Heat a deep pot with a lid. Put some oil in the bottom, like olive oil. After the oil heats up, add the already seasoned meat. Once the meat is well browned on all sides, remove it from the pan until you can go ahead, to avoid overcooking.

If you want to add vegetables to the mix, now is the time. Try adding carrots, celery, garlic or diced zucchini. When cutting, make small pieces that do not need to be cut later

Step 2. Take the juices out of the pan

This process is done by placing a liquid, while the pan is still hot, to remove all pieces of meat or the like stuck to the pan, making them float. This is usually done with broth or wine, or a combination of the two. After adding the liquid, keep scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the caramelized pieces of meat.

  • Wine is widely used because of its acidity. The acidity helps break down the proteins found in meat, which softens it even more. It also accentuates her flavor. If you are not a wine expert, a Pinot Noir is a good choice for such a process.
  • If you prefer a non-alcoholic meal, use apple cider vinegar to base your broth. The vinegar gives the acidity that the wine would give and the broth gives it a good flavor.

Step 3. Bring the meat, vegetables and liquid to a boil at 350 °C and cover

Place all desired vegetables and meat in the pan. The pot can remain on the stove or it can be placed in the oven. The goal is to make the liquid bubble and then lower the temperature to make it simmer.

Ideally, leave the pan half full so that most of the meat is covered in liquid. If necessary, add more liquid at any stage of cooking. Allowing the liquid to dry results in parched meat

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Step 4. Saute the steak over low heat, slowly

Check the liquid level frequently to maintain the ideal. Do not let the liquid go to the boiling level. By keeping the steak sautéing at a low temperature for a long time, it will be perfectly tender.

The braising process can take up to three hours. When the meat is done, it will be tender enough to be noticed by inserting a fork. If you cook past this point, the meat may get overcooked and tough

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